Every time you go to the grocery store, it seems like the price of food has crept up just a little bit more. You can save by shopping sales, using a cash-back credit card, and clipping coupons.
But it’s also easy to forget those coupons when you head out for your weekly grocery shopping. And stores might not always put the food and supplies you need on sale.
Fortunately, technology provides a handier option for trimming your grocery bills. Grocery receipt-scanning apps give you cash back on certain products after each shopping trip. But it’s essential to choose the best receipt-scanning app for your needs.
Best Receipt-Scanning Apps to Save Money on Groceries
There are plenty of receipt-scanning and shopping apps, and each works slightly differently. Some make you wait to reach a certain payment threshold before you can cash out. Many pay via PayPal, but a few offer gift cards instead.
While there are key differences between each app, each one works similarly:
- Install the App. Most of the apps work for either iOS or Android phones.
- Browse and Choose Offers. Some apps feature products or offers, which you must activate before scanning your receipts.
- Go Grocery Shopping. Buy the products you activated exactly as instructed. Some deals may be for specific sizes or even certain stores, while others may offer deals at any store or for any product or line a brand offers.
- Upload Receipts. Once you get home, take a picture of your receipt with the app. Some apps also allow you to scan bar codes.
- Earn Cash, Points, or Rewards. You earn rewards, points, or cash back once the app approves the receipt.
Since these mobile apps are free to use and each has different offers available, try a few to see which ones you like best. You may be able to use several on the same shopping trip.
1. Fetch Rewards
When you use Fetch Rewards, you earn points for each receipt you scan. How many points you get per receipt depends on what you bought. The app partners with brands like Ben & Jerry’s, Huggies, and PepsiCo, so if your receipt from any store contains products from one or more of those brands, you’ll earn points.
But sometimes, it also partners with stores like Walmart and Kroger, meaning you must buy from that store to get points. You may have to buy specific products or just scan a receipt for a particular purchase amount.
You can also scan any grocery, gas station, pet store, liquor store, or hardware store receipt and get 25 points. And if you connect your Amazon and email accounts to Fetch Rewards, you get points for your Amazon purchases and e-receipts.
Every 1,000 points you earn is the equivalent of $1. If you’re not into buying brand-name products or Fetch doesn’t partner with brands you use, it might take a while for you to earn your first $1 through the app.
You can start trading in your points for gift cards once you have 3,000 points, or $3. There are hundreds of gift cards to choose from, including big names like Target, Walmart, and Amazon. You can also hold onto your points and wait until you have 10,000 ($10) or 25,000 ($25) to cash out. Or you can donate your rewards to charity.
Ibotta gives you rebates on groceries, household supplies, and personal care products. To get cash back, download the app, select the store you’re going to, browse the store’s offers, and activate the ones that appeal to you. Then head to the store, buy the products, and scan your receipt.
With Ibotta, you know exactly how much cash you’ll get for each offer. Buying a box of Kleenex-brand tissues might net you $1, while picking up Folgers ground coffee gives you $0.50, for instance.
Ibotta works at nationwide chains like Target and Walmart and regional grocery chains like Albertsons, Safeway, and Kroger. It also works at movie theaters, hardware stores, and pet stores. You can’t get cash back if you frequent your local mom-and-pop shops, though.
One of the best things about Ibotta is its flexibility. Some offers require you to shop at a particular store or purchase a specific brand. But the app also has any-item offers, which let you get cash back on any brand of a certain product, such as apples or paper towels. There are also any-receipt offers, which give you cash back just for scanning a receipt.
Ibotta also gives cash back for online shopping. If you click through to the retailer on a referral link in the app, you get a percentage of your purchase amount back. There’s also the option of linking store loyalty cards so you can skip the receipt-scanning part when you shop.
You can transfer your Ibotta earnings to a bank account or PayPal or pick a gift card to places like Amazon, Target, or Starbucks. You need at least $20 in earnings before you can cash out, though.
Once you start using Ibotta, you need to be pretty consistent with it. If you stop using the app for six months, it starts deducting a monthly $3.99 inactivity fee from your Ibotta earnings until you’re back down to zero.
Coupons.com offers digital and printable coupons for those who like to save money the old-fashioned way. It also has an app that works similarly to the Ibotta app.
You install it on your phone, create an account, and activate offers for the products that appeal to you. Most available offers are for brand-name food, personal care, and baby products, such as General Mills cereals, Neutrogena, and Huggies.
While you can shop pretty much anywhere and scan a receipt for almost any store, some of the Coupons.com offers are limited to certain retailers. Those are noted in the offers themselves.
You can also link store loyalty cards to the Coupons.com app. That lets you skip the receipt-scanning step, as the app automatically recognizes your purchases.
Unlike other receipt-scanning apps, you don’t have to reach a payout threshold. After you link your PayPal account and the app approves your receipt, the app transfers the funds to your PayPal automatically.
Dosh is a cash-back app that skips the receipt-scanning process altogether. It’s a great option if you’re always misplacing receipts or forget to scan yours.
Once you’ve downloaded the app, connect your credit or debit card to it. You can also link the app to a Venmo or Jelli account. Dosh uses bank-level 256-bit encryption and never sells your data to third parties.
Additionally, Dosh doesn’t store banking information. To remain secure, the app uses PayPal banking vault service Braintree to store all financial information. The platform also uses multifactor and two-factor authentication to prevent unauthorized access.
That security allows you to breathe easy while you enjoy cash-back benefits. It also ensures your cash back lands in your account.
How much you earn depends on the retailer’s offer. Dosh works at more than 10,000 retailers, such as Costco and Walmart, and restaurants, such as Dunkin’ and Dominos.
Cash back is usually a percentage of your total purchase, such as 2% or 5%. Once you hit $25, you can cash out to PayPal, Venmo, or your bank account.
Many receipt-scanning cash-back apps make shoppers buy certain products or shop at certain stores to get your rebates. Not CoinOut. You can scan almost any receipt for practically any product and get cash back.
CoinOut accepts receipts from supermarkets, restaurants, coffee shops, gas stations, or pretty much anywhere that gives you a receipt with purchase. But ATM receipts, non-English language receipts, and handwritten receipts don’t count.
What’s the catch? You have no idea how much you’ll get when you scan your receipt. The cash back is completely random, so you might get just a penny after you send in your receipt. CoinOut doesn’t say how much you can potentially earn, but it does note it sets a minimum and maximum amount daily.
There’s also a limit to the number of receipts you can scan each day, and that limit changes. But you have two weeks from the date of the receipt to scan it, so if you hit the limit one day, you can just wait.
When it’s time to access your earnings, you can have the app direct-deposit the cash into your bank account, send the money to your PayPal account, or pick an Amazon gift card. While there’s no minimum amount for gift cards or direct deposit, you need at least $10 for PayPal.
You’re not going to see amazing savings using CoinOut, but it’s easy enough to use that it’s worth trying.
6. Checkout 51
Checkout 51 lets you browse offers from well-known brands, like Chobani and The Laughing Cow, and add the ones you like to your list. You can sort by product category or store, and many products are available at multiple grocery chains. Additionally, Checkout 51 also lists several basic food items, such as bread and eggs, that are eligible for cash back regardless of the retailer.
Offers go live at 12am on Thursday in each time zone and expire the following Wednesday at 11:59pm. You must snap a copy of your receipt while the offer is still active. Because offers are available in limited quantities, it’s important to check your Checkout 51 shopping list before your next shopping trip to ensure offers are still available.
Once you’ve finished shopping, you snap a photo of your receipt. When the app approves your receipt, it adds cash back to your account. You can cash out once you’ve earned at least $20. You can choose PayPal or a paper check.
Checkout 51 members can also earn up to $0.25 per gallon on fuel purchases at gas stations like Shell, BP, Exxon, and Chevron.
Shopkick is a rewards app that lets you collect points when you scan receipts or scan a few bar codes. You can also earn points, which the app calls “kicks,” for watching online videos or reading product descriptions on your phone.
If you want cash back without ever making a purchase, Shopkick is the app to try. It also rewards you when you make purchases at participating stores or order something online through a link in the app.
How much you earn depends on your activity level. Walking into a store might earn you 10 kicks. Scanning a product can give you 30 or so kicks. When you buy something in-store using a card you linked to the app, you earn 6 kicks per dollar spent.
The app gives you a list of stores that offer kicks near you. Options vary by location but might include popular stores like Walgreens, Walmart, and Aldi. Some stores give you kicks just for entering, but others require you to scan a product or purchase something. The app lists what activities are valid at each retailer.
You can redeem your kicks for gift cards for retailers like Starbucks, Sephora, Target, and Amazon.
A receipt-scanning app is just one of many ways to save on groceries.
You can maximize the benefit you get from the apps by doubling up. For example, you can use an app that accepts any receipt, like CoinOut and Fetch Rewards, and one designed for the purchase of specific products, like Ibotta, Coupons.com, or Checkout51 simultaneously.
You won’t get rich using the apps, but they can shave a bit off your grocery bills, and as food prices keep going up, every little bit of savings helps.